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A thought inspired by Thursday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Nazir 24

A thought inspired by Thursday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Nazir 24

Tell me what your basic needs are.

This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.

In the coming years, and even as early as today, it will become increasingly important for us to take care of one another. Ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met should be our minimum objective. While greed-driven economics has driven us forward so far, significant changes are on the horizon, including a potentially disruptive wave of job loss. While it’s possible that everything will eventually work itself out, in the short term, numerous individuals who have dedicated years to developing specific skill sets will find that computers can perform their job more efficiently and at a lower cost.

Although ChatGPT has impressed everyone, it’s only one step in the ongoing series of achievements in Deep Learning. As early as 2012, computers proved capable of performing tasks as intuitive as image recognition at a level comparable to humans, indicating the inevitability of this technology’s progression. While many media commentators have pointed out ChatGPT’s apparent shortcomings, they appear to be ignorant of the fact that solutions to these problems already exist and will increasingly be demonstrated in the years ahead. This technological advancement will affect the employment of both highly educated professionals and lower socioeconomic individuals.

Those in positions of power may believe that it’s unnecessary to ensure people’s basic needs are met. The capacity to control the media and influence public opinion has been evident in many regions worldwide. Although people may be deprived, those in power can always shift the blame to perceived external or internal enemies, thereby escaping accountability. This approach, however, poses a risk, as stoking hatred may eventually lead to extreme violence both within and between nations. Relying on manipulation instead of addressing people’s needs will ultimately result in the destruction of the world.

If society intends to provide for the basic needs of significant portions of the population, the fundamental question is, what constitutes those needs? Is it enough to offer sustenance and basic shelter, or must we also provide for meaning, fulfillment, comfortable housing, trendy clothing, transportation, access to global culture, and the ability to travel, among other things? If people are provided with sufficient money, will they utilize it prudently, or will it be readily taken away from them by manipulative forces? If too much money is given, why would anyone continue to work? Why would people bother to do the jobs that cannot be replaced by computers if those who are unemployed earn as much as those who work? If people lose their motivation to work and produce, causing the economy to slow down, where will the funds to support those who are not productive come from?

Should we determine people’s needs on their behalf or should we ask them directly what they want? The former approach is paternalistic and typically ineffective. However, the latter approach poses a challenge because many people are irrational, susceptible to manipulation, and unaware of their long-term desires. Two factors prevent many individuals from making logical decisions. One factor is a lack of education, while the other is the mental and psychological well-being required to know oneself and maintain rational control over short-term impulses and emotional responses to immediate stimuli.

As there is no definitive answer to the question of what the basic needs are that we must fulfill for people, the only feasible option is to have people answer that question for themselves. To achieve this, we must prioritize better education for everyone, including the development of mental well-being and rational control. Society must provide ample resources to encourage lifelong learning, promote mental health, and facilitate life management. This will enable individuals to discover new paths in life, create more meaningful existences, and determine for themselves and others what their fundamental needs genuinely entail.

submitted by /u/eliyah23rd
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Source: Reditt